Military police reportedly detained Abdul Kareem Suleiman Amer, the blogger better known as Kareem Amer, together with the film-maker Samir Eshra on Cairo’s Kasr El-Nil bridge yesterday evening as they were leaving Tahrir Square. Reporters Without Borders calls for their immediate release.
“Kareem Amer owes his prominence to his virulent criticism of the regime,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We fear the authorities will use this opportunity to send him back to prison for a long time.”
Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about the possibility of reprisals against local journalists, bloggers and fixers as the international media gradually leave Egypt. It appeals for the utmost vigilance and reminds the authorities that they have a duty to guarantee the safety of all the media personnel trying to cover events in Egypt.
Asma Mahfouz, a blogger who urged Egyptians to take to the streets on 25 January, told the BBC on 5 February that she had received many phone calls from Mubarak supporters threatening to kill her and her family.
Reporters Without Borders has also been told that journalists wanting to go to Tahrir Square have had to register with the information ministry. This constitutes government control over the movements of media personnel and is therefore a form censorship (see http://twitter.com/justimage).
On 7 February 2011, the press freedom organization has also received reports of disruption of mobile phone services and problems connecting to the Internet from Tahrir Square.
Kareem Amer was arrested on 6 November 2006 for criticising the government’s religious and authoritarian excesses in his blog and was subjected to appalling conditions in detention. His blog entries had also criticised the Sunni University of Al-Azhar, where he had studied law, and discrimination against women. He was previously arrested for similar reasons on 2005.
He was sentenced on 22 February 2007 to three years in prison on a charge of inciting hatred of Islam and another year in prison on a charge of insulting the president. Countless protests were organised by the Free Kareem Coalition and others throughout the four years he was held. Reporters Without Borders awarded him its “Cyber-Freedom” prize in December 2007.
He should have been released on 5 November 2010 on completing his sentence. But he was not freed until 15 November and, during the 10 days he was held illegally, he was again subjected to physical mistreatment at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria.
Reporters Without Borders has been keeping a tally of all the abuses against journalists. Since 2 February, at least 75 have been physically attacked and at least 73 have been detained for two hours or more. One journalist, Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud of Al-Ahram, has been killed. See the tally: http://en.rsf.org/egypt-tally-of-cases-of-abuses-against-04-02-2011,39487.html
Image Courtesy of DayLife - Jordanian demonstrators shout during a protest against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in front of the Egyptian embassy in Amman February 7, 2011. - Reuters Pictures